Manchester bomber Salman Abedi phoned his mother and said “forgive me” hours before the attack which killed 22 people, according to Libyan security forces.

It has also emerged that his brother, Hashim, who is being held in Tripoli, claimed that Abedi learned to build bombs from the internet and was “hoping to seek victory for the Islamic State”.

The revelations emerged as, in Ireland, Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan urged that the force retain responsibility for both state security and policing.

Her comments were made as Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government would “reflect” on setting up a separate security and intelligence agency, amid calls from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin for such a body.

Ms O’Sullivan was speaking at the bi-annual commissioner’s conference in west Dublin, attended by the most senior officers and senior Department of Justice civil servants.

She said gardaí have a great track record in combating terrorism and subversive organisations; that a single organisation ensures intelligence flows easily and quickly and that there is no turf war between separate agencies; and that there are many examples abroad where intelligence is not shared between separate policing and security agencies.

Sources told the Irish Examiner that Ms O’Sullivan said she was of the view that the force has a strong track record in protecting national security. She said there is value to a joint security and policing model which avoids turf wars between separate agencies.

Mr Kenny chaired a meeting yesterday of the National Security Committee to discuss the ramifications of the Manchester bombing.

Emergency measures to cope with a terrorist attack and the surveillance of individuals potentially linked to terrorism were discussed.

Ahead of several large concerts and events in the weeks ahead, ministers were told gardaí here are working closely with organisers to ensure “appropriate safety and security” is in place.

Ministers were told that regular “scenario exercises” or simulated attacks continue to be held.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said: “Of equal importance is the ongoing work to ensure that people do not become alienated from our society and radicalised. Terrorism is caused not by particular religions or peoples, it is caused by hatred.”

Damien McCarthy, representing members of the Garda Representative Association in Dublin South Central, told the Irish Examiner the National Security Committee meeting and the statement issued was a “box-ticking exercise”.

He said the failure to invest in “basics” of policing, such as garda numbers, training, and community policing, means the force is not able to properly respond to events such as terrorist incidents, including their prevention.

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